Strength training increases endurance time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercise despite no change in critical power

Brandon J Sawyer, David G Stokes, Christopher J Womack, R Hugh Morton, Arthur Weltman, Glenn A Gaesser
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2014, 28 (3): 601-9
The purpose of this study was to determine whether improvements in endurance exercise performance elicited by strength training were accurately reflected by changes in parameters of the power-duration hyperbola for high-intensity exercise. Before and after 8 weeks of strength training (N = 14) or no exercise, control (N = 5), 19 males (age: 20.6 ± 2.0 years; weight: 78.2 ± 15.9 kg) performed a maximal incremental exercise test on a cycle ergometer and also cycled to exhaustion during 4 constant-power exercise bouts. Critical power (CP) and anaerobic work capacity (W') were estimated using nonlinear and linear models. Subjects in the strength training group improved significantly more than controls (p < 0.05) for strength (~30%), power at V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak (7.9%), and time to exhaustion (TTE) for all 4 constant-power tests (~39%). Contrary to our hypothesis, CP did not change significantly after strength training (p > 0.05 for all models). Strength training improved W' (mean range of improvement = +5.8 to +10.0 kJ; p < 0.05) for both linear models. Increases in W' were consistently positively correlated with improvements in TTE, whereas changes in CP were not. Our findings indicate that strength training alters the power-duration hyperbola such that W' is enhanced without any improvement in CP. Consequently, CP may not be robust enough to track changes in endurance capacity elicited by strength training, and we do not recommend it to be used for this purpose. Conversely, W' may be the better indicator of improvement in endurance performance elicited by strength training.

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